The accounting close can be an intense time for an accounting team. Daily operations need to continue while the team completes specialized tasks, frequently resulting in long work hours. Organization and communication are fundamental to a successful accounting close, and accounting teams can benefit by using project management processes, for example, Kanban, and project management tools, such as Trello.
Trello is an online collaboration tool that uses Kanban principles to organize and visualize work, identify bottlenecks, and reorganize work as needed. Manufacturers and software developers have a long history of using Kanban, and accounting teams can also benefit by using Kanban and Trello to manage the accounting close.
How to Organize Trello for the Accounting Close
Trello boards are the starting point for projects. They are analogous to a homepage for your project, a place where you and your team can stay informed about the general health of your project, and they primarily consist of two key components - lists and cards.
Create a Team
Before creating a board, create a team to assign to your board. Teams allow members to access and make changes to elements of your board and help team members stay informed.
To create a team, click the “+” button in the upper-right corner of the Trello header, and click Create Team…. Complete the fields in the pop up windows to name your team, add a description of your team, and add members to your team. After you finish setting up your team, the members will receive an email notification.
Create a Board
After you create your team, there are several ways to create a board for your team. Similar to the process to create a team, click the “+” button in the upper-right corner of the Trello header, and click Create Board. Title your new board and select the team that will use the board.
Lists help establish a workflow for your project. Organizing an accounting close can be an art with multiple dependencies that need to align at just the right times, and lists help with this organization. As illustrated below, an effective way to organize a close is by financial statement section, with a separate list for each section. However, if you have a larger accounting team, you might create separate boards for each function of your team and, within the boards, create separate lists for preparing data, reviewing data, recording data, and reconciling data. Trello provides flexibility to choose the best approach for the close, you, and your team.
Cards are useful to document tasks or to-dos and then assign team members, create and add labels, assign due dates, attach supporting documents, and more. As cards are updated or completed, team members are notified via email about the changes in status, empowering your team to stay informed on its progress.
Trello makes third-party solutions, called Power-Ups, available in the application to enhance the Trello user experience through advanced features. For example, BigPicture is a popular Power-Up that displays Cards in a GANTT chart and allows users to manage Cards directly in the GANTT chart, especially helpful for managing an accounting close.
Other Project Management Solutions
Several accounting close management software applications are available in the market, and applications such as FloQast and Blackline are phenomenal at helping accounting teams manage the close. Smaller accounting teams might prefer to use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets due to accessibility, affordability, and ease of use. However, a downside of using spreadsheets to manage the close is the absence of automated communications as close tasks are updated and completed.
As the demand for timely, complete, and accurate accounting data increases, accounting teams can create value for their companies by shortening the accounting close. Teams that know how to shorten the close by applying project management processes and tools will be at an advantage, and Trello can help accounting teams organize their close process by providing a user-friendly, affordable project management solution.